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April 7, 2012

Defense, special teams highlight first scrimmage

Virginia Tech held their first open scrimmage of the spring on Saturday afternoon. The day saw a handful of highlights most notably a pick six for Kyle Fuller and punt return for a touchdown by Kyshoen Jarrett as the starting offense failed to post a touchdown.

Logan Thomas had his moments and unveiled the no huddle offense, but the starting offense couldn't get a touchdown on the day. Thomas showed a nice read option for 10-yards later in the scrimmage. He completed just 3-of-12 for 53-yards and the interception. Thomas did struggle though at times overthrowing Dyrell Roberts for an interception, but hit Marcus Davis for 23-yards.

Mark Leal threw an interception as well, though it was a miscommunication with Demetri Knowles and another behind his receiver. He struggled against the first team defense in particular, but was steady on the day hitting4-of-12 or 46-yards. Trey Gresh got time and threw a duck on a big reception for E.L. Smiling, he came back with a better throw for the only offensive touchdown of the day, a 22-yarder to David Mellstrom. Brian Rody had a nice couple passes downfield, but they fell incomplete.

At tailback, Michael Holmes and J.C. Coleman were relatively limited on the day. Though, Coleman did have one nice run and displayed his shiftiness, he finished with 14-yards on six carries. However, Martin Scales proved he is a gamer and made a couple miss during an impressive run. He is clearly very difficult to bring down and finished with 26-yards on four runs.

The wide receiver position saw Dyrell Roberts, Marcus Davis and Corey Fuller at the top three spots. Davis stepped up with an impressive, leaping grab for 23-yards from Thomas. He finished with 56-yards on three receptions. Roberts appeared to be at full speed, while Fuller was a tad hesitant on the day. Further down the depth chart, Demetri Knowles appeared to run a poor route that led to a pick six for Mark Leal, Kevin Asante was largely quiet with one carry. But, E.L. Smiling emerged when he came up with a one-handed grab and adjustment to a rough pass from Trey Gresh, he had 36-yards on two catches. However, David Mellstrom stepped up with a touchdown to close the scrimmage from 22-yards out, two grabs for 44-yards. Christian Reeves pulled down three receptions for 43-yards.

Tight end was largely quiet on the day. Randall Dunn, Eric Martin and Ryan Malleck. Malleck looked very athletic on the day.

As for the offensive line, the big news was the return of Caleb Farris to the lineup. He was without the blue jersey and went full strength. During limited ones versus ones, Brent Benedict struggled a bit with Luther Maddy, getting back a couple times, once for a sack. However, Vinston Painter and Nick Becton performed well. David Wang was very good in his time. Andrew Miller was consistent. The second team really struggled with the starting defensive line not surprising. Jake Goins in particularly got worked over by James Gayle a few times during the session. Mark Shuman had his moments, but struggled a bit with Matt Roth and Justin Taylor. Laurence Gibson was reliable as well. The offensive line, particularly the backups had way too many false starts.

On the flipside, the defensive line played quite well. James Gayle provided some nice pressure. Luther Maddy got a sack on Brent Benedict and the starting unit provided a nice presence. Maddy finished with 1.5 sacks on the day part of 11 for the defense. Derrick Hopkins limped off earlier in the scrimmage, but returned later. The two deep showed their ability too, Zack McCray played a lot inside and did well. Kris Harley blew up a play in the backfield for a loss and Dadi Nicholas made a highlight hit on Daniel Dyer for a loss. Nicholas really impressed, as he was in the backfield quite a bit. Matt Roth and Justin Taylor had their moments at times, Taylor looking better at defensive end.

The linebacker spot saw Ronny Vandyke shine with a big hit and interception off of Logan Thomas. It's clear Vandyke is pushing hard for playing time. Jack Tyler performed well including on a nice blitz. Jeron Gouveia-Winslow didn't play, but Alonzo Tweedy and Chase Williams played solidly. Tweedy in particular was in the backfield a lot on the day finishing with five solo tackles, 2.5 for loss and 1.5 sacks. Derek DiNardo posted three tackles, one for loss and two assists on the day. Brian Laiti had his moments as well.

In the secondary, Kyle Fuller exploded with a 51-yard return of an interception off of Mark Leal. On the other side, Exum looked comfortable at corner and Kyshoen Jarrett and Detrick Bonner played well at safety. Donaldven Manning performed very well in the scrimmage and showed he is very capable. Of note, Michael Cole was out in blue jersey today.

The special teams got a fair amount of work and showed Willie Byrn, Kyle Fuller, Kyshoen Jarrett, Demetri Knowles, Detrick Bonner and Michael Holmes on punt returns. Jarrett was obviously the star with a 88-yard return for a score. J.C. Coleman and Antone Exum got kick returns. Nick Dew and Alonzo Tweedy saw time at gunner. Kyle Fuller blocked a field goal on the day as well. At backup safety, Theron Norman and Adeboye Aromire got time, Aromire looks to have a small edge.

Ethan Keyserling was booting kickoffs approximately 60-yards. As for the kicking game, Conor Goulding made a 36-yarder, but missed a 36-yarder as well, he finished 2-of-4 on the day. Michael Branthover wasn't much better on the day making a 35-yarder, but then missing a 39-yarder wide left badly. At the moment it seems Goulding may have a slight edge. At punter, Keyserling had his moments and was a bit of a sleeper on the day posting 2 punts for 78-yards. Branthover boomed a 48-yarder that was returned for a score by Jarrett, but also dropped a snap on the day.

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